Larung Gar Monks and Nuns ‘Locked Out’ Before Eviction

2016-11-03
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The locked door of a Larung Gar dwelling is shown in an undated photo.
The locked door of a Larung Gar dwelling is shown in an undated photo.
Photo sent by an RFA listener

Monks and nuns targeted for eviction from Sichuan’s Larung Gar Buddhist Academy are now being locked out of their residences, with no chance given to retrieve their belongings before they are sent away, sources say.

As Chinese authorities continue to work to reduce the size of Larung Gar, officials are trying new tactics to facilitate forced removals, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“Officials are now locking the doors of the monks’ and nuns’ quarters when the occupants are at class or away on an errand,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Then, when they return, they are unable to get inside,” the source said.

Chinese officials are warning that anyone found tampering with the locks, which are numbered and painted red, will have broken the law and be dealt with accordingly, RFA’s source said.

“Under these threats, many of the monks and nuns have to leave in despair without gathering their few possessions,” he said.

Many thousands of Tibetans and Han Chinese study at the sprawling Larung Gar complex, which was founded in 1980 by the late religious teacher Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok and is one of the world’s largest and most important centers for the study of Tibetan Buddhism.

The order now to reduce the number of Larung Gar’s residents by about half to a maximum level of 5,000 next year “comes from higher authorities,” with China’s president Xi Jinping taking a personal interest in the matter, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

Thousands have already left, with hundreds sent away by bus on Oct. 30 alone, RFA’s source said.

“Now, groups of monks and nuns are still being forced to leave each day,” he said.

Though authorities claim that those leaving Larung Gar are returning to their family homes voluntarily and in agreement with the government’s plan, “intimidation and coercion are being used to force them to leave,” the source said.

“The monks and nuns are also being told that their family members will face dire consequences if they fail to comply with official orders,” he said.

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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